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How To Navigate Pregnancy After Infertility & Pregnancy Loss

OLIVE GUEST BLOG

I have the honour of guest blogging for Olive Fertility Centre this month.

Here’s this week’s blog:

Pregnancy Is Not A Cure For Infertility or Miscarriage Stress

I had expected to feel nothing but joy and exhilaration when I finally got that positive pregnancy test after a difficult 7+ year fertility journey.

But what I found was that the effects from the grief, loss and shock of infertility and pregnancy loss were not simply cured by the positive pregnancy test. After all the worst-case scenarios that I had experienced, I was wired to expect and wait for the other shoe to drop.

PTSD In Pregnancy

In fact, some researchers argue that infertility and pregnancy loss can be a form of complex trauma that replays even once pregnancy has been achieved. (1,2) For some women, the anxiety and worry they experienced during their fertility journey persists throughout the pregnancy. In addition, once they “graduate” from their fertility clinic they may feel cut adrift from sources of support they had relied on.

If you are continuing to experience anxiety during your pregnancy, it is important to seek out support like counselling or a support group.

Mindfulness Reduces Stress and Increases Resilience

Another resource is a Mindfulness-Based program. Mindfulness has been shown to help decrease stress and anxiety, while increasing resilience and well being. Research shows that when practised throughout pregnancy, not only can Mindfulness help to promote mental health, it can also make childbirth easier, improve partner relationships and enhance parenting sensitivity as well as child well-being. (3)

When I finally became pregnant with my son, a home pregnancy test revealed that I was pregnant during a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I was trapped there, with all of the thoughts and feelings, excited, elated and terrified. Yet I was forced to sit and be with it all, without uttering a word about it to anyone. I anchored myself in the steadiness of my breath, as I practiced watching the storm of thoughts and emotions bubble through my mind, trying not to judge them, or let them take over me.

Mindfulness allowed me to make peace with the unknown of the future, by helping me to accept and find ease in the present moment.

My mindfulness practice gave me the inner space and calm to recognize and take good care of what I did have control over, while cultivating openness and deep acceptance of whatever outcome I did not have control over. It allowed me to make peace with the unknown of the future, by helping me to accept and find ease in the present moment.

Mindfulness for Pregnancy After Infertility & Pregnancy Loss Program

To learn more Mindfulness tools, join me for a Mindfulness program dedicated to those who are currently Pregnant after Infertility and/or Pregnancy loss.

This program follows the famous 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and associates at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It is the most well-established mindfulness program to date and has become a standard in scientific research.

It will give you the tools you need to support you through your pregnancy, so that you may feel more at ease and enjoy this very special time.

Program details:

Online Mindfulness For Pregnancy After Infertility & Pregnancy Loss
Jan 31 – Mar 28, 2021
By donation at the end of the program

For more program information and to register, go to www.mindfulnessforfertility.com

References:

  1. Farren J, Jalmbrant M, Falconieri N, et al. Posttraumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy: a multicenter, prospective, cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2020;222:367.e1-22
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2019.10.102
  2. Kami L. Schwerdtfeger & Karina M. Shreffler (2009) Trauma of Pregnancy Loss and Infertility Among Mothers and Involuntarily Childless Women in the United States, Journal of Loss and Trauma, 14:3, 211-227
    DOI: 10.1080/15325020802537468
  3. Duncan LG, Shaddix C. Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP): Innovation in Birth Preparation to Support Healthy, Happy Families. International Journal of Birth and Parent Education. 2015 Jan;2(2):30-33.
    PMID: 29051821

COVID Vaccine When Pregnant or Breastfeeding

As administration of vaccines begins to roll out, we’re getting a lot of questions about the vaccine and pregnancy.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) released an official statement on December 18th, which has also been endorsed by The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS).

Here’s a summary of the SOGC statement:

Because there haven’t been any clinical trials that can support any evidence-informed recommendations about the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding populations, the official recommendations are subject to change.

At the time of release of the statement, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID 19 vaccine was the only authorized COVID-19 vaccine authorized for human use in Canada. This vaccine is administered in two intramuscular injections 21-28 days apart.

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals were excluded from the Phase II and Phase III trials

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals were excluded from the Phase II and Phase III trials involving the randomization of about 44,000 people, which showed an efficacy rate of 94.6% for symptom prevention at least 7 days after the second dose.

Unfortunately, pregnant and breastfeeding people were also excluded from all other vaccine trials for which Phase III results are available.

No potential harm has been flagged with the vaccine

Although no potential harm has been flagged, the potential risk of vaccination to a pregnant person and fetus remains unknown.

It is however known that pregnant people have an increased risk of severe morbidity if infected with COVID-19, and that severe infection carries risks to both maternal and fetal health.

There is increased risk of COVID infection to both maternal and fetal health

While pregnancy itself does not seem to carry increased risk of COVID infection, pregnant people may be vulnerable to increased risk of infection depending on their work situation (eg. health care workers, caregivers or outbreak settings). Other underlying comorbidities, like maternal age may also carry higher risk of COVID-related morbidity.

COVID-19 vaccine should not be offered to populations excluded from clinical trials until further evidence is available.

As such, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has advised that the “COVID-19 vaccine should not be offered to populations excluded from clinical trials until further evidence is available.

Risk assessment can deem that the benefits of vaccine outweigh the potential risks

However, if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccine outweigh the potential risks for the individual or for the fetus/infant (in the case of pregnancy/breastfeeding) and if informed consent includes discussion about the insufficient evidence in this population, then a complete series of authorized COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.”

People who are planning a pregnancy are advised to complete the series of 2 vaccination injections ahead of the pregnancy.

This is the official word on COVID vaccinations for pregnant and breastfeeding people, for more detailed information, you can read the full statement here.

For more information on supporting pregnancy and fertility health, feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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Chinese Medicine Postnatal Care

The postnatal period is considered the first six weeks after childbirth. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the postnatal period is a very vulnerable time for the mother. 

The First Hundred Days

The first three days after birth are seen as a time of elimination, then followed by 30-100 days of rest in order to replenish blood and Qi energy that is lost through pregnancy and childbirth.

At this time, physical rest should be taken at any opportunity possible. Exercise can be appropriate (once given the okay by your doctor or Midwife) and a diet tailored to a woman’s constitutional needs should be followed.

Acupuncture and TCM as part of postnatal care can significantly reduce and prevent disharmonies from developing, such as depression/anxiety, persistent uterine bleeding, after-pains, night sweating, perineal discomfort, insufficient lactation, mastitis and breast abscesses.

Here Are Some Guiding Principals:

Avoid Cold and Stay Warm

When compared to previous Chinese times, nowadays it is much easier to keep ourselves warm with internal heating, hot baths and showers.

However, it is still important to avoid being exposed to extremely cold temperatures and wind. Do not go outside with wet hair, avoid sleeping or breastfeeding by open windows or fans, and avoid getting chilled from leaving swimming pools, hot showers and baths.

A diet of cold, and raw foods should also be avoided. Although foods such as yogurt, iced water/juice, raw salads, vegetables and sandwiches are usually quick and easy for a brand new post-natal mom, these foods can be detrimental to postnatal recovery, and can exacerbate certain conditions.

Postnatal Diet According to Chinese Medicine

This advice can be some of the most important when it comes to aiding in postnatal recovery. A woman’s underlying constitution needs to be considered when using diet therapy and should be prescribed by a trained Acupuncturist or Nutritionist.

Below are some basic guidelines for all new mothers to help build Qi energy and Blood.

Foods to Fortify Qi Energy

Oats, rice, potato, sweet potato, mushroom (button & shitake), yam, basil, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme and jasmine tea.

Foods to Build Blood

Corn, sweet rice, beetroot, all dark leafy greens, apricot, avocado, date, kidney bean, sesame seeds, egg and soya milk as well as iron rich foods like red meat and spinach.

Cooking Methods

Not only do the foods we eat matter when it comes to postnatal care, but so does how we prepare them. Cooked foods are easier on our digestive system, and allows the nutrients to be more readily absorbed. Warm soups are considered particularly nourishing for women in the initial postnatal weeks.

Mother Warming

“Mother Warming” is a useful one-time treatment given to women four to five days post birth. It is used to aid in recovery and energize the woman after childbirth by replenishing Qi energy and Blood lost during childbirth.

Moxa or Mugwort, a Chinese herb, is burned and used to heat the woman’s abdomen from the pubic bone to the belly button for 5-10 minutes or until the woman feels pleasantly warm.

If possible, this technique is also recommended on the lower back area as well, along the midline from the second lumbar vertebra to the sacrum for 5-10 minutes or until the woman feels pleasantly warm.

Caution:

It is important to note that this treatment should not be done if the woman is experiencing night sweating, has a raised temperature or if there are signs of retained placental products, as the use of moxa could cause further problems.

Please avoid moxa over a cesarean scar that appears to be infected, have redness or a pus-like discharge.

It’s best to consult with a trained Acupuncturist to ensure that there are no heat signs or other contraindications for the application of Mother Warming.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a great way to treat, and prevent postnatal disharmonies from arising after childbirth. 

Following Mother Warming, acupuncture and further moxa treatments 10 -14 days post birth can be administered to further assist the body in building good quality Qi energy and Blood to help with recovery.

Treatments once a week for two to three weeks is optimal.

To find out more about how we can help you with postpartum support, book a free 15-minute phone consult.

Source:

Debra Betts: The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth

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Alina Gross IG @alina.gross

Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods To Build A Healthy Baby

Many people understand the importance of eating healthy during pregnancy because food plays a huge role in a baby’s development. Many cultures around the world have famous foods that are prized for nourishing people before, during and after pregnancy.

Your body will do everything in its power to reproduce successfully, however it’s up to you to provide it with the necessary nutrients to build the healthiest baby possible.

The Plate Method

A good place to start is by having a good balance of macro and micro-nutrients at each meal (vitamins, minerals, carbs, proteins and fats).

The plate method is an excellent guideline to use when planning meals and measuring proportions. Aim for half of your plate being composed of non-starchy vegetables, one quarter composed of protein and fats, and the remaining quarter composed of fruits or vegetables.

For example:

  • 2 or more cups of vegetables with some healthy fat, like a good quality oil or avocado.
  • 3-4 oz of protein, either plant-based or animal-based
  • 1/2 cup of starchy or root vegetables 

If you feel better on a low carb diet, aim for less starch and more greens, healthy fat and protein.

The Plate Method Components:

1. Protein

Strive to have a variety of protein sources in your diet to ensure you get a good balance of amino acids and other key vitamins and minerals. Try not to get caught in eating the same thing again and again.

For example:

  • Organic beef, lamb, bison, chicken, turkey
  • Seafood (wild caught)
  • Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidney
  • Eggs (pasture raised, organic)
  • Almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seats, chia seeds
  • Beans, peas, lentils, brown rice

2. Fat

Your body’s need for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)  increases during pregnancy. A baby’s brain is made up of 60% fat and depends on omega fatty acids, choline, and fat soluble vitamins for development. The key is to prioritize high quality/healthy fats and avoid trans and saturated fats.

For example:

  • Fish
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Olives, coconuts, avocados
  • Organic butter or ghee

Avoid processed vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil or margarine. Try to stay away from anything deep fried or processed, as they are usually cooked in these low quality oils.

3. Vegetables

Vegetables are little powerhouses packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for building baby’s bones, blood, joints and much more. Aim to fill half your plate with an assortment of vegetables. And just like protein, don’t get caught up in only eating the same few vegetables again and again. Choose from a wide variety of vegetables.

For example:

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Bells pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprout
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Greens: spinach, kale, collards, watercress, bok choy, arugula, dandelion
  • Tomato
  • Leek
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Radish
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Snap pea
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Beet

4. Fruit

Fruit is an excellent source of hydration, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. These are all required for collagen/skin formation, immune development, iron absorption, wound healing and much more.

When craving something sweet, try fruit such as baked apples & cinnamon, peaches & yogurt or a berry smoothie. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole foods.

For example:

  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Melons

5. Fluids

When you’re pregnant, your fluid intake needs to increase. Your baby is swimming in amniotic fluid and your blood volume increases significantly. Water plays a huge role in nutrient absorption, digestion, transporting oxygen, and more.

Try to drink good filtered & mineralized water. Chlorine in tap water disrupts the gut flora for both the pregnant parent and the baby. Aim for about 10 cups of water a day.

In Summary

Make it a priority to add more real foods and minimize processed foods.

Think variety! Try to avoid eating the same dishes over and over again, incorporate new proteins, new vegetables, and new fruits.

Eat healthy omega-rich fats and avoid trans or saturated fats.

Stay hydrated!

For more information on how we can help you optimize your Pregnancy Nutrition, book a free 15-minute online consultation today!

Prenatal YogacuPressure

When

Sundays
11:00am – 12:00pm

May 3 – June 7

Who

Instructor: Sarah Kent
BA. Psychology
Certified Yoga Teacher

Why

Studies show that yoga postures and acupuncture points help to decrease pregnancy pain and benefit pregnancy, labour and birth outcomes.

Join us for this special on-line 6 week series of Yoga and Acupressure to support mom’s changing body throughout pregnancy and to help prepare the body for labor.

This practice will focus on:

  • strengthening and energizing
  • relief of pregnancy pain
  • increasing flexibility
  • breathing & relaxation techniques
  • creating a calm environment for you & your growing baby

This class welcomes all stages of pregnancy and all levels of yogis, including beginners.

Registration

6 Classes: $120
drop-in: $25

Register on-line
A secure link will be sent to you upon registration.

Yoga

A regular yoga practice offers many health benefits to both the mind and body. Yoga practice provides a refuge from our busy stressful lives.

Physical Benefits:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Muscle tone
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Circulation
  • Physical endurance
  • Lung capacity
  • Weight reduction
  • Pain and injury prevention
  • Anti-inflammatory

The mental and spiritual aspects are extremely valuable; yoga can help with stress management and calmness. It can help alleviate depression, insomnia and anxiety as well.

We offer both group yoga sessions as well as one-on-one personalized yoga.

Our instructors are additionally trained in fertility and prenatal yoga as well as acupressure as an effective adjunct.

Contact us for more information.

Acupuncture for Pelvic and Back Pain in Pregnancy

Even though I have not experienced the miracle of pregnancy, I can say that I am no stranger to pain. I know pain not only affects us physically, but that it takes its toll on us mentally as well! Having to constantly modify our duties and activities, it creeps into every aspect of our life.

Once my patients become pregnant, their bodies change to accommodate the life that is growing inside. Of course there are going to be associated aches and pains and pelvic pain is very common.

Fortunately, I have had much success treating pelvic pain in pregnancy with acupuncture.  Here are a few snippets from a systematic review of three studies on the success of acupuncture treatment for the relief of pelvic pain in pregnancy (1):

  • In 2000, a study found that the acupuncture group had a baseline of 7.4/10 pain that decreased to 1.7/10 after 4 weeks of acupuncture.  Whereas the control group’s pain only improved from a baseline of 6.6/10 to 4.5/10.
  • In a 2004 study, 60% of women in the acupuncture group reported less pain compared to 14% of the control group. 0% of the women in the acupuncture group required pharmaceutical intervention.
  • In 2005, a study compared 3 groups: an acupuncture group, a stabilizing exercises group and a control group. The baselines were 65, 60 and 63 respectively out of 100. The pain levels decreased to 35 in the acupuncture group, 50 in the stabilizing exercises group and 59 in the control group. Fewer women reported having pain when turning over in bed in the acupuncture group (66% vs 71% vs 88%.)

Acupuncture can successfully treat pregnancy related pelvic pain in less time, without the use of pain killers, and with less intervention than other treatment options!

If you need help with your pelvic or back pain, contact us for a free 15 minute Q & A or to book in with us today!

Reference:
1. Carolyn C. Ee, MBBS, BAppSci (Chinese Medicine/Human Biology); Eric Manheimer, MS; Marie V. Pirotta, MBBS, PhD; Adrian R. White, MA, MD, BM BCh,  Acupuncture for pelvic and back pain in pregnancy: a systematic review , MARCH 2008 , American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Exercise Guidelines For Pregnancy

By: Paige Wyatt

Living a health lifestyle has never been more important than while you’re pregnant. Not only are you now responsible for your overall health and well being, but also that of your unborn baby. What we eat, how much we sleep, how much water we drink, our mental and emotional stress, as well as how much we exercise need to be taken into consideration for a healthy pregnancy.

The new 2019 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy has shed a new light on recommendations for prenatal physical activity. Not only can we help to reduce complications during pregnancy but it can also optimize health and wellbeing for both mother and child.

Previous concerns over fetal health during pregnancy have long been a deterrent for prenatal physical activity. The thought of exerting ourselves and potentially increasing our chances of miscarriage, stunting gestational growth, inducing preterm labour, and harming the fetus has caused a lot of expecting mothers to reduce and stop their exercise program. Less than 15% of women are engaging in the recommended prenatal exercise.

But, here’s the truth; these concerns have never been proven by research. Instead we’ve seen a rise in pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and large for date babies, which may be the cause of rising maternal obesity.
Physical activity is now being looked at as a preventative and therapeutic measure to reduce pregnancy complications.

WHAT DO THEY RECOMMEND?

• All women without contraindications should be physically active throughout pregnancy
• 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week
• Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of 3 days per week
• Aerobic and resistance training achieved greater benefits
• Pelvic floor muscle training (eg. Kegels) may be performed on a daily basis to prevent urinary incontinence
• Exercises should be modified to reduce supine position

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Women who exercise during pregnancy have a reduced chance of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, cesarean delivery and operative vaginal delivery. Exercising while pregnant can also help reduce post partum recovery time, decrease depression and stress levels, as well as overall weight gain.

IS EXERCISE FOR EVERYONE?

No. These guidelines are intended for women who do not have any pregnancy complications. Although exercise exhibits many health benefits there are certain conditions that are considered absolute contraindications. EVERYONE should be thoroughly evaluated by their OBGYN before beginning an exercise program to ensure there are no medical conditions.
Absolute contraindications are as follows:
• Ruptured membranes, premature labour
• Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding
• Placenta previa after 28 weeks gestation
• Preeclampsia
• Incompetent cervix
• Intrauterine growth restriction
• High-order multiple pregnancy (eg., triplets)
• Uncontrolled type 1 diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, or uncontrolled thyroid disease
• Other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorder

HOW TO START BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE DURING PREGNANCY?

According to the new guidelines there is never a better time to start exercising than the PRESENT. Even if you have never exercised before it is recommended to start. If you’ve never exercised, starting gradually and slowly increasing your intensity and frequency is recommended.
Although the more activity you do, the greater the benefit, even small amounts of physical activity have been proven to be beneficial. Exercise can be for everybody! Take a prenatal yoga class, go for a brisk walk, go for a swim, take an aerobics class or get your sweat on by stationary cycling.
Keep in mind that there may be periods of fatigue and discomfort as your body changes throughout pregnancy, and certain activities may need to be modified as pregnancy progresses. Remember, IT’S OKAY TO REST!

THINGS TO CONSIDER

  1. 1. Take it easy! A good indication that you are not overdoing your workouts is by using the “Talk Test.” If you are able to carry on a conversation while exercising it is likely that you are not overexerting yourself.
  2. 2. Always make sure you maintain adequate hydration- drink water before, during and after exercise.
  3. 3. Avoid physical activity in excessive heat and humidity (eg. hot yoga). A thermo-neutral environment is recommended.
  4. 4. Avoid activities that involve a risk of falling, or physical contact that may induce risk of fetal injury (eg. horse back riding, non-stationary cycling, extreme hiking)
  5. 5. No scuba diving.
  6. 6. No high altitudes.
  7. 7. Seek obstetric advice if considering exercising above the recommended guidelines.
  8. 8. Listen to your body and if you experience any symptoms while exercising such as persistent shortness of breath, severe chest pain, regular and painful uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, persistent loss of fluid from the vagina, persistent dizziness, and faintness that does not resolve with rest STOP physical activity and consult a health care provider.

In summary the new 2019 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy has recommended moderate-intensity exercise during pregnancy to help reduce pregnancy complications and optimize health for both mother and baby.

https://els-jbs-prod-cdn.literatumonline.com/pb/assets/raw/Health%20Advance/journals/jogc/JOGC908_LR-1539864964137.pdf

https://sogc.org/news-items/index.html?id=229

https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Physical-Activity-and-Exercise-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period

My Favorite Resource For Pregnant Mothers To Be

By Christina Pistotnik

The time between that positive pregnancy test and holding your newborn in your hands can be filled with a mixture of emotions. On one hand you are so excited that you are going to be a mother but on the other hand you can’t help but feel anxious because it is hard to know what you can and cannot do. Some of you invested time, energy, and financial contributions in order to get to this place, and of course you want to do everything you can to safely maintain this pregnancy.

One of my favorite resources that I refer to and suggest to newly expectant mothers is called Motherisk. It is a Canadian site and program facilitated by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and they provide evidence-based information about what is and is not safe during pregnancy. I really enjoy it because it is easy to use and contains a vast array of information all on one site. Plus they have a toll free number (1-877-439-2744 ) that you can call and speak directly to a nurse that will help you out with any concerns you may have.

Having reliable resources and specialists to support you during pregnancy is important because it can help ease uncertainty surrounding an important time in your life.

What about acupuncture, is it safe during pregnancy?

Since the majority of my patients start seeing me while in the process of trying to conceive, I get this question quite a lot in my practice and the answer is; Yes, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of treatment in pregnancy. This is because it utilizes the body’s own healing process to help maintain pregnancy by keeping the uterus calm and stabilizing progesterone which keeps the lining secure until the placenta takes over. Plus it helps to minimize uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms which include; nausea and vomiting, aches/ pains, insomnia, and energy issues.
Plus, an added bonus when receiving acupuncture treatments is that it has a very calming affect on the body. Therefor, it can help with stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing during this time.

As an acupuncturist specializing in fertility and pregnancy, I am happy to safely treat you for any of your pregnancy concerns. Call Whole Family Health to book your appointment or learn more about our Fertility Services today!

Moving Forward From Pregnancy Loss: 4 Things That Help

October is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, and in honor of heartbroken parents, blessed little lost ones, and all dear folk touched by this grief, we recognize this all too commonly shared experience.

We all process this kind of loss in our own way, and in our own time. One of life’s humbling mysteries – sometimes there is an explanation, and other times there is not. Either way, we are left to grapple with that which we don’t have control over, and to practice with somehow making peace with it, while sorting out how to move forward.

Often losses can be isolating, held close and private, locked in the silent hope of the first trimester. Hopefully to be spoken of later, perhaps when a little less emotionally raw.

While later term losses or stillbirths may be collectively grieved; empty-armed parents, navigating how to move forward at the mercy of often unpredictable waves of emotion. Moving through a life unchanged and yet forever changed – buoyed or sunken by the community’s varying depth of understanding and expectation.

It is said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage by age 35, and once we start talking about it, we realize that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered a loss- if they haven’t experienced one themselves.

What does life after loss look like? There is no right or wrong way to grieve, we all do it in our own way and in our own time. Some of us are de-railed for a short time, and others of us never quite ‘get over it.’ Some of us need potato chips, while some of us need long walks, or both. Whatever it may be, allow the time and space to be with it in whatever way works best.

Here are some things that will help in the wake of pregnancy loss:

1. Breathe. Studies show that Mindful breathing exercises shift us out of fight or flight and activate our pre-frontal cortex- which is responsible for higher executive functioning. This supports our recovery from traumatic events and helps us to be present with and to integrate these experiences in a healthy way.

Mindfulness allows us to have the perspective we need to see our way through difficult times, without avoiding or being completely high-jacked by the negative impacts of the associated stress. Accessing resources like a Mindfulness class or a Mindfulness App like Headspace have far-reaching benefits.

2. Nourish and renew. Pregnancy loss and stillbirth can be draining both physically and emotionally. Eat replenishing foods, that are nutrient-rich and tonifying. Try to stay away from refined and processed foods, while gravitating toward a whole foods diet.

Stick to warm and cooked meals, especially in the colder seasons. These are more easily digested, and your body doesn’t have to work as hard to metabolize them. Bone broths, which are rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals are easily absorbed, rehydrating, and fortifying.

3. Follow up. Follow up with your doctor. Especially if bleeding or pain persists or if your energy levels are slow to recover. Your doctor can run standard blood-work to check on hormone and iron levels after a loss. He or she can also determine if there is any indication for ultrasound imaging to ensure that no pregnancy products remain and/or that healing from any procedure is going smoothly.

If you have had more than one loss, your doctor will likely want to run a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Panel, to rule out any potential contributing physiological factors.

4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture promotes blood flow, regulates inflammation, supports hormone balance, and decreases stress. It helps with recovery from both spontaneous miscarriage, procedures and stillbirths, as well as supports regulation of your cycle after loss.

Treatment plans are individualized, based on factors relevant to your particular case, and can include regular acupuncture, customized Chinese herbs, and a review of recommended supplements, diet and exercise.

If a Western diagnosis has been identified, and/or Western Medical treatment is necessary, we make modifications to support this process. The primary aim is to help your body re-set. Should you plan to create and carry another healthy pregnancy, then we also help to prepare for this, while supporting the mental-emotional process and doing what we can to prevent another loss.

Pregnancy and infancy loss is not uncommon, and the more we speak to it, the better
we are able to understand and support one another. Bless the hearts of those who know
this kind of loss first-hand and bless the hearts of those who love and support them.

 

Dr. Alda Ngo

For more information on how we can support recovery and prevention of pregnancy
loss, please feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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